When is a will not enough?

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When Is A Will Not Enough

If you are the parent of a special needs New Jersey child, you likely spend a good deal of time taking care of him or her and making sure that (s)he receives the attention, education and support (s)he needs to make his or her life as comfortable and fulfilling as possible. What you may not have thought about, however, is that your estate plan needs to consist of more than simply your Last Will and Testament.

FindLaw explains that you should seriously consider establishing a special needs trust for your child’s benefit. After naming your child as the trust’s beneficiary and yourself as the trustee, you then transfer assets into it such as the following:

  • All the federal and state financial benefits (s)he currently receives
  • Any housing, educational, employment or other financial subsidies (s)he currently receives
  • Any assets (s)he currently has, such as gifts, inheritances or lawsuit judgments or settlements (s)he has received

Trust benefits

One of the biggest advantages of a special needs trust is that the trust itself owns the assets in it, not your child himself or herself. This allows him or her to remain eligible for Supplemental Security Income, Medicaid and numerous other governmental benefits, not only now, but also throughout his or her lifetime. Another major benefit consists of the fact that as trustee, you can continue to oversee, manage and disburse the trust assets for your child’s benefit just as you do now. In addition, you can name a successor trustee to carry on in the event of your incapacity or death, as well as the person or facility that you want to care for your child should you no longer be able to care for him or her yourself.

This is general educational information and not intended to provide legal advice.


Michael Ritigstein is a Founding Partner of the firm concentrating his efforts in supporting the firm's litigation, corporate and estate matters. Mr. Ritigstein graduated from the University of Delaware in 1996 and Seton Hall University School of Law in 2000. In 2007 he received a Masters of Law in Taxation with a concentration in Estate Planning, from Temple University's Beasley School of Law.

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